A Boro Park grandmother reporting as missing two of her toddler grandchildren visiting from overseas on Shabbos set off a frantic but brief search, with an apparently disturbed woman who appeared to be a member of our community arrested several blocks away, the children’s hands tucked firmly into hers.
The woman was indicted early Sunday with trespassing and child endangerment charges, but not the more severe kidnapping charge. This comes as the woman, speaking in Hebrew, repeatedly insisted to police that the children, both 4-year-olds, had asked her to take them to the park, according to a Shomrim official.
The scare began on Shabbos afternoon, when a woman noticed
her two grandchildren — cousins who came to visit their grandparents for Pesach from their homes in Israel and Switzerland, respectively — were being pushed on a swing set in the backyard by a stranger. She motioned to the woman to leave and then rushed downstairs.
By the time she arrived in the backyard, located on 14th Ave. and 51st Street, the woman, along with her two grandchildren, was missing. She called Shomrim and police, who initiated a full-scale search in the area. A police helicopter flew low overhead as Shomrim brought out their command centers and mapped out a search detail. Dozens of volunteers combed the streets.
Two hours later, security cameras caught the woman holding the hands of the two youngsters and headed in the direction of 18th Ave. She was finally found on 52nd Street between 15th and 16th Avenues, apparently on the way back to their grandparents’ home, and was taken into custody.
Pointing to another incident on Shabbos in which a seemingly frum man was arrested for assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Flatbush, Shomrim coordinator Yanky Daskal said that the old instruction to children not to talk to strangers must be updated for today’s times.
“The lesson in this is to tell your children not to talk to any strangers,” Daskal said.
Askanim stressed the importance of training children to be on high alert and aware of all types of potential dangers, even from within the community.